Patton Oswalt is a genius. I might've said that after his work in Ratatouille, but then I started nosing around his stand up. In my personal headspace he's a genius. Perhaps it's the similar background, the similar enthusiasms. Who knows?
The man makes me laugh.
Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. It's a quick read, less than 200 pages, but it's full of lovely little incisive., funny comments. The structure is a collection of shorter essays/commentaries. These cover all sorts of things, from his early years in comedy to working in a movie theater, to Dungeons & Dragons.
To say I feel a kinship to Oswalt's worldview, if not the specifics, of his life, would be understating the point. When he goes off on a tear about the last Dungeons & Dragons character he ever created, an insanely powerful and ugly half-goblin, and how it became a violent reaction to the impending assault of sex into his life, I get, completely, where he's coming from. It's such a clear, "look back in anger" view of what those games gave us. The escape they provided.
I also love, love, love the section about a headlining gig at a comedy club in Vancouver....scratch that...it's really Surrey, Canada. It's a wonderful trip with a young performer who's terrified to piss anyone off, for fear of being branded "difficult," learning that there are people in this world who aren't worth building a bond with. The comedy club manager he describes (names changed to protect the assholes - and to avoid a lawsuit) is somebody that we've all met, all worked with, and endured. The feeling of power and elation Oswalt describes when he just realizes that this douche is a loser, and there's no need to play his game, it's something I've felt a few times.
There's an escaped Ax Murderer involved, too...just to shake things up.
This is a kind of book that it's hard to review, there's no plot, I can't talk about how he's constructed the story in interesting ways. It's just a series of snapshots of Patton Oswalt's mind. I think, honestly, if you read this blog and relate to any of the things I write about, you'll find things in Zombie Spaceship Wasteland that will touch you and call forth memories.
I also cannot recommend highly enough, his album, Werewolves and Lollipops.
There's also his recollections of a lovely meeting with Brian Dennehy at the Batman Begins premiere in London. It's the sort of story that anyone who's had to battle their weight will smile about. Plus, he uses "Hal Jordan!" as a punchline.
Can't get much better than that.